SF Urban Forester Media Summary

We collect news and information relevant to the local urban forestry community.  In addition to posting the content below, we email it to anyone interested.  To receive these irregular (roughly twice monthly) email messages, just sign up here:

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Trees on York Street removed; no one knows why
by Julian Mark, Mission Local, September 15, 2017
“The residents of York Street are heartbroken that two street trees were illegally removed today from York St at 25th,” Ben Glenn, who lives down the street from the trees, wrote in an e-mail. Glenn said he sent an email to Calle 24, and received a response from Moisés García, corridor manager at Calle 24. “It’s my understanding that Richard Segovia requested the tree removal to improve the view of the mural,” Garcia said. The trees partially blocked a new mural, and 25th and York streets will be the site of the “Latin Rock Stage” as part of the Fiesta De Las Americas block party Sunday. The mural, painted on Segovia’s house, is a tribute to the local Latin rock scene. (FULL STORY)

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Planting Trees with Friends of the Urban Forest
by Rex Woodbury & Ian Spear, Two Hands, September 14, 2017
When we signed up to plant trees with Friends of the Urban Forest, we had thought it would be as simple as digging a hole in the ground and putting a young tree in said hole. We learned there’s actually an incredible amount of care and thought that goes into planting a young sapling, including measurements for the roots and structures to protect the tree from strong winds. There are numerous benefits to having more trees in the city, including cleaner air, reduced polluted stormwater runoff, and, of course, a more beautiful city to live in. After heading home from volunteering, we noticed our street was looking a little barren. We went on FUF’s website and requested some trees in our neighborhood! (FULL STORY)

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Scientists: Future of oldest tree species on Earth in peril
by Scott Smith, Associated Press, September 14, 2017
The bristlecone pine tree, famous for its wind-beaten, gnarly limbs and having the longest lifespan on Earth, is losing a race to the top of mountains throughout the Western United States, putting future generations in peril, researchers said Wednesday. Driven by climate change, a cousin of the tree, the limber pine, is leapfrogging up mountainsides, taking root in warmer, more favorable temperatures and leaving little room for the late-coming bristlecone, a study finds. “Limber pine is taking all the good spots,” said Brian Smithers, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Davis, who led the research. “It’s jarring.” The bristlecone pine can live 5,000 years, making it the oldest individually growing organism on the planet, researchers say. (FULL STORY)

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The Ground-Zero Tree That Survived 9/11 Is a Reminder of American Resilience
by Melanie Aman, Woman’s World, September 11, 2017
Sixteen years after September 11, the Twin Towers may no longer be standing, but in their place is a testament to the unbreakable strength of the human spirit: the Survivor Tree. “When they were doing the clean-up at the World Trade, somebody noticed it amongst the rubble,” Richie Cabo, a horticulturist and manager of the Citywide Nursery said. The 8-foot tree was moved to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, in a state that Robert Zappala, the former manager of Citywide Nursery, describes as “mortally wounded.” Many thought the tree would not survive, but after nine years of rehab, the pear tree was thriving. In December of 2010, Vega and his team worked to bring the tree back to its home. (FULL STORY)

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Unpaving Paradise
by Nuala Sawyer, SF Weekly, September 6, 2017
Paved yards cover seven percent of the Sunset District, and add up to more than 160 acres. It is possible to walk blocks in certain areas of the Outer Sunset without seeing more than 12 square feet of dirt, thanks to outdated landscaping practices and residents’ desire to convert front yards into extra parking spots. But in the past few years, the city has fought back against that practice, offering money to homeowners willing to remove a few blocks of cement for the sake of some greenery through the Front Yard Ambassadors Program. Supervisor Katy Tang’s office reviews applications from residents twice a year. If approved, the Friends of the Urban Forest implements them, planting low-maintenance, drought-tolerant species that are able to thrive in the neighborhood’s unique coastal conditions, and burying them in gopher-resistant baskets that deter the hungry rodents. (FULL STORY)

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Tree at 826 Haight May Be Saved
San Francisco Forest Alliance, September 5, 2017
In a little bit of good news, we recently received this letter from a supporters, telling of a possibly successful attempt to save a street tree on Haight Street, San Francisco CA. Hi Folks, Another partial win for a critical component of our urban forest — street trees, in this case a lone blackwood acacia at 826 Haight Street facing removal. The other day DPW [Department of Public Works] head Muhammed Nuru reversed a request to remove the tree after a Public Hearing was held for neighbors protesting its imminent removal. The tree removal order was overturned, delayed for 90 days while BUF reassesses every means of saving this healthy, mature tree including construction of a larger basin and sidewalk repair that slopes to accommodate the tree roots and base. (FULL STORY)

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A Y-Combinator Startup Named FLOCK is Mounting License Plate Scanners in the Street Trees of Frisco – Here’s 20th and Guerrero
San Francisco Citizen, September 4, 2017
This surveillance startup wants to put cameras in your neighborhood – The cameras already have captured evidence of two crimes. Flock is a new startup backed by Mountain View-based accelerator Y Combinator that uses the license-plate-reading cameras to help catch criminals. Just look at this poor Indian Laurel Fig (Ficus retusa) – it’s literally in “poor condition” already and then Y Combinator / Flock nails on a license plate camera to monetize the sidewalk trees of Frisco by spying on you and yours? (FULL STORY)

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Southern San Francisco is getting greener
by Bethany Klein, Northern California News, August 28, 2017
Balboa High School played host to a large group of people on Saturday, August 26th. The group consisted of approximately 600 volunteers from across the city. There were also city officials there to assist with the project. The goal of all of those people was to plant 500 trees in the southern part of the city. This section of the city was chosen as it has been largely ignored in the past when it comes to city improvement projects. The project was developed through the joint efforts of Friends of the Urban Forest and the Department of Public Works, as well as the guidance of Ahsha Safaí, the District 11 Supervisor. (FULL STORY)

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Cure Yourself of Tree Blindness
by Gabriel Popkin, New York Times, August 26, 2017
There was a time when knowing your trees was a matter of life and death, because you needed to know which ones were strong enough to support a house and which ones would feed you through the winter. Now most of us walk around, to adapt a term devised by some botanists, tree blind. But here’s the good news: Tree blindness can be cured. Just naming trees might sound a bit like a parlor trick to impress your friends. But it’s also a way to start paying attention. Then you notice more interesting things. Trees put on one of nature’s great sex shows. Each spring they break their winter dormancy with a burst of genitalia, also known as flowers. (FULL STORY)

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Volunteers plant hundreds of trees in SF’s southern neighborhoods
by Jenna Lyons, SF Gate, August 26, 2017
San Francisco’s southern neighborhoods got a little greener Saturday as hundreds of volunteers and city officials gathered at Balboa High School for the city’s largest tree planting project to date. Sunny weather kept spirits high, despite the looming shadow brought on by a planned right-wing gathering that led officials to close Alamo Square Park in the Western Addition. “This is really kind of a crazy day for San Francisco and for our country,” Dan Flanagan, executive director of Friends of the Urban Forest, told the crowd of volunteers. “Put something in the ground that will last for generations. That’s what we care about in this city.” (FULL STORY)

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Public Works To Plant 500 Trees In District 11 Tomorrow
by Will Carruthers, Hoodline, August 25, 2017
With the largest tree planting in city history, some southern neighborhoods are about to get a lot greener. San Francisco Public Works announced plans to plant 500 street trees tomorrow in the Excelsior, Outer Mission, Crocker Amazon, Ingleside and other District 11 neighborhoods. The mass planting is a coordinated effort between Public Works, Friends of the Urban Forest, District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai and 300 volunteers. In addition to greening the streets, the mass planting is designed to draw attention to Street Tree SF, the city’s latest attempt to improve its street tree maintenance program. (FULL STORY)

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How Listening to Trees Can Help Reveal Nature’s Connections
by Diane Toomey, Yale Environment 360, August 24, 2017
David George Haskell is nothing if not a patient observer. In his latest book, The Songs of Trees, Haskell takes those powers of observation and uses them to lyrically describe repeated visits to 12 trees around the world, including a ceibo in the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador, a pear tree on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and an olive tree in Jerusalem. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Haskell explains that, in writing the book, he wanted to explore not only individual trees, but their connections to the biological networks around them, including humans, and the often-unheard sounds that result from these interactions, from a beetle chewing the inside of a dead ash tree to waves washing over the roots of a palm tree. (FULL STORY)

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Trees Can Save A City $500 Million Every Year
by Katharine Schwab, Co.Design, August 24, 2017
A new study published in the online journal Ecological Modelling puts a number on just how much money trees save cities. After studying 10 megacities around the world and taking into account air pollution, storm water, building energy, and carbon emissions, the researchers found that trees have an economic benefit of about $505 million every year. From Beijing and Cairo to London and Los Angeles, researchers from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Parthenope University of Naples found that trees are worth $1.2 million per square kilometer, or $35 per capita. But in the future, those numbers could be much greater. (FULL STORY)

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Can Trees Help Decrease Urban Violence?
by Conni Kunzler, Alliance for Community Trees News, August 18, 2017

American Journal of Epidemiology. 186(3): 289-296.

Green space and vegetation may play a protective role against urban violence. U.S. Forest Service researchers investigated the relationships between being near urban tree cover during outdoor activities and experiencing gun violence. They found that, when participants were under tree cover, they were less likely to experience gun violence. Numerous analyses and comparative models confirmed that being under tree cover was inversely associated with gunshot assault, especially in low-income areas. The authors suggest that increases in urban greening and tree cover in low-income areas be explored as proactive strategies to decrease urban violence. (FULL STORY)

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The Phenomenon Of “Crown Shyness” Where Trees Avoid Touching
by Christopher Jobson, Colossal, August 14, 2017
Crown shyness is a naturally occurring phenomenon in some tree species where the upper most branches in a forest canopy avoid touching one another. The visual effect is striking as it creates clearly defined borders akin to cracks or rivers in the sky when viewed from below. Although the phenomenon was first observed in the 1920s, scientists have yet to reach a consensus on what causes it. (FULL STORY)

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Some cities have started tracking how much money their trees are earning them each year
by Jack Payne, Business Insider, August 12, 2017
Cities routinely rake up tens of millions of dollars from their urban forests annually in ways that are not always obvious. Portland, New York City, Milwaukee and Atlanta are among the cities that have quantified the payoff from pines and palms, olives and oaks. It’s part of a breakthrough in thinking among city planners in recent decades who now realize that a city runs not just on engineering, but on biology and ecology as well. But in general, few cities employ people with deep expertise in urban forestry. There’s not even consensus on a definition of urban forestry, though Beck, from Tampa, describes it as the science of addressing both people with tree problems and trees with people problems. (FULL STORY)

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Finding a good tree care service
by Bay Area Consumers’ Checkbook, SF Gate, August 4, 2017
To keep your trees healthy or to get rid of dying ones, you may want the benefit of professional advice, skill and labor. To help you find it, nonprofit consumer group Bay Area Consumers’ Checkbook and Checkbook.org has surveyed its members and Consumer Reports subscribers about their experiences with area tree care services. (FULL STORY)

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Amid Black Unemployment Crisis, S.F. Neighborhood Looks to Green Jobs
by Johnny Magdaleno, Next City, August 1, 2017
Throughout the city, black unemployment rates are critically high, ranking between 17 and 64 percent even though black communities only make up 4 percent of the population citywide. But programs like Greenagers, Friends of the Urban Forest, the YMCA’s Environmental Advocates Program, and others have found a niche by giving Hunters Point youth job experience that battles local environmental and health ills. (FULL STORY)

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A Powerful New Therapy: Climbing Trees
by Dana Davidsen, THE DIRT (blog of the American Society of Landscape Architects), July 31, 2017
Climbing trees isn’t just for able-bodied children and adults. Dr. John Gathright believes it can be an inclusive form of therapy with the power to foster positive emotions in people of all physical and mental abilities. Gathright is the founder of Tree Climbing Japan, an organization that uses tree climbing as rehabilitation for physically-challenged people to overcome pain while improving well-being, mobility, and strength. “I believe that trees are our friends, teachers, and doctors,” Gathright said at annual conference of the International Society of Arboriculture in Washington, D.C. (FULL STORY)

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What Cities are Doing to Fight Tree Vandalism
by Rachel Engel, EfficientGov, July 31, 2017
Tree vandalism in the form of poisoning or girdling—the act of stripping rings of bark, almost always resulting in the death of the tree—is devastating to local communities. Large, mature trees can be valued at $15,000 to $30,000, depending on the size and species, and the costs to replace them with young trees, as well as the time it takes to wait for them to mature, are significant. It doesn’t seem like there should be a rational answer to the reason for tree vandalism, and there’s not, but it often comes down to three possible culprits: Homeowners wanting a better view, Neighbors disputing over property or yard maintenance, General vandalism. (FULL STORY)

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New York Today: The Greenest Block in Brooklyn
by Alexandra S. Levine, New York Times, July 31, 2017
This morning we bring you the winner of the Greenest Block in Brooklyn, a contest that the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has hosted for more than two decades. Drum roll, please. And the award goes to: Stuyvesant Avenue, between Bainbridge and Chauncey Streets. So we asked Nina Browne, the botanic garden’s community program manager, who has overseen the competition for years and trains the judges, how the winner is chosen. The most important of all the judging criteria, she said, is citizen participation, measured, for example, by looking for gaps in the presence of gardening on the street. (FULL STORY)

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Nine Industry Leaders Chosen by the International Society of Arboriculture as 2017 “Awards of Distinction” Recipients
International Society of Arboriculture press release, PRWeb, July 30, 2017
The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), an international leader in research, education, and the promotion of professional arboriculture, recognized nine recipients for the 2017 Awards of Distinction, sponsored by Bartlett Tree Experts. The Awards of Distinction were presented Sunday, July 30, during the opening ceremony of the ISA’s 93rd Annual International Conference and Trade Show, held in Washington, D.C. The 2017 winners include…. (FULL STORY)

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Trees can make or break city weather
University of British Columbia press release, ScienceDaily, July 26, 2017
Even a single urban tree can help moderate wind speeds and keep pedestrians comfortable as they walk down the street, according to a new University of British Columbia study that also found losing a single tree can increase wind pressure on nearby buildings and drive up heating costs. The researchers used remote-sensing laser technology to create a highly detailed computer model of a Vancouver neighbourhood down to every tree, plant and building. They then used computer simulation to determine how different scenarios — no trees, bare trees, and trees in full leaf — affect airflow and heat patterns around individual streets and houses. (FULL STORY)

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SF officially reclaims responsibility for street trees
by Alena Naiden, San Francisco Examiner, July 19, 2017
San Francisco officials pruned several trees — and some residents’ stress — on Wednesday to celebrate The City reclaiming responsibility for its street canopy. Mayor Ed Lee joined other city officials and advocates in Noe Valley to kick off the Street Tree SF, a measure transferring the responsibility of about 125,000 street trees and the 31,000 sidewalks they damage from property owners to The City. (FULL STORY)

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City Launches Street Tree Maintenance Program, Says It Could Take Years To Clear Backlog
by Bay City News Service, SFGate, July 19, 2017
The Street Tree SF program is the result of Proposition E, a ballot initiative approved by nearly 80 percent of voters last November. Supervisor Jeff Sheehy said getting a tree trimmed could cost at least $500, and repairing sidewalks several thousand dollars. Advocates such as Friends of the Urban Forest, meanwhile, were pushing for the city to plant and maintain more trees, while public works officials said they simply did not have the resources to manage the task. (FULL STORY)

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Community Challenge Grant Living Alley Program (CA), Call for Proposals: Lily Street Living Alley Mural Project
by sjsartidea, Bay Area Art Grind, July 19, 2017
The Lily Street Living Alley Mural Project is a public art mural project on Lily Street in San Francisco, CA funded through the Community Challenge Grant Living (CCG) Alley Program and in partnership with the residents of Lily Street and Friends of the Urban Forest (sponsor). A maximum of 6 murals, averaging 400 SF, are proposed for the the 200, 300, and 400 block of Lily Street. (FULL STORY)

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Massive database of 182,000 leaves is helping predict plants’ family trees
by Heidi Ledford, Nature, July 7, 2017
The story of a plant is etched in its leaves. A tree growing in a cold environment with plenty of water is more likely to have large leaves with many serrated teeth around the edges. But if the same species lives in a warm, dry region, its leaves are likely to be smaller and smoother. Now, an atlas that traces the shapes of 182,000 leaves from 141 plant families and 75 locations around the world shows promise for refining scientists’ ability to read that story. (FULL STORY)

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San Francisco takes back its trees, to the relief of property owners
by Dominic Fracassa, SF Gate, July 1, 2017
Starting Saturday, the city will for the first time take full responsibility for the care and maintenance of the nearly 124,800 street trees in the city’s right of way, sweeping aside its unpopular practice of making property owners care for most of the trees. “The policy we used to have actually made no sense from so many different directions,” said Dan Flanagan, executive director of the nonprofit Friends of the Urban Forest, which campaigned for Prop. E. (FULL STORY)

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Green streets: Urban green and birth outcomes
by K. Abelt and S. McLafferty, Children & Nature Network, July 2017
A protective relationship between green space and birth outcomes has been documented in previous research. This study adds to the research base by including waterfront access (“blue space”) as a green space variable and by using street trees as an additional measure of residential greenness. This study found partial support for an association between residential greenness and birth outcomes, in that expectant mothers living in a neighborhood with fewer street trees tended to have an increased chance of a preterm birth. These findings suggest that fine-grained, street-level vegetation is more beneficial for reducing the likelihood of preterm birth than a neighborhood’s raw vegetation density. Additionally, the similarity of the relationship between street trees and the odds of preterm birth among mothers in deprived areas and mothers in non-deprived areas suggests that nearby street trees could be protective against preterm birth for pregnant women regardless of their socioeconomic status. (FULL STORY)

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As cities look to get greener, lower-income residents fear gentrification
by Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY, June 25, 2017
Call it the greening neighborhood conundrum. Now, designers and city officials seeking to create recreational space on abandoned industrial eyesores are increasingly recognizing — some albeit belatedly — that they have a chicken-and-egg quandary on their hands: How do you add green space in lower-income areas without inevitably setting those populations up to be displaced by more well-heeled neighbors looking to enjoy the amenities? (FULL STORY)

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SF takes over tree husbandry July 1st
by Mike and Sue, Mike & Sue blog, June 21, 2017
We’re going to go out on a limb to state that July 1, 2017, will go down in history as the resurrection day for San Francisco’s urban forest. That’s the day when San Francisco Public Works takes over responsibility for the care of all the street trees. It was clear that a funding strategy was needed. In stepped the nonprofit group, Friends of the Urban Forest, which lined up support on the Board of Supervisors to place Prop. E on the November 2016 ballot. (FULL STORY)

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Public Works Threatens Fines, Jail Time For Illegal Tree Removal
by Teresa Hammerl, Hoodline, June 20, 2017
Director of Public Works Mohammed Nuru recently wrote on Twitter that there are “so many trees illegally cut” in San Francisco that he’s “about to start advocating for jail time.” We reached out to Nuru to learn more about how trees can be legally removed and how he plans to protect more than 124,000 street trees around the city. Thanks to the passage of Proposition E, these trees will revert to city control next month. (FULL STORY)

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Treequake: A seismic shift in San Francisco urban forestry
by Ellyn Shea, Deeproot blog, June 19, 2017
Starting July 1, 2017, the City of San Francisco will start doing something it hasn’t done since the 1970s: take responsibility for all the trees in the public right-of-way. Meanwhile, FUF continue to perform community tree plantings and young tree care – with some differences. “We’re not going to have to ‘sell’ the benefits of planting trees to property owners anymore,” FUF Program Director Karla Nagy told me, referring to the current model where homeowners have to agree to care for a tree for its natural life after planting. (FULL STORY)

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Love them or hate them, ficus trees lining city streets are dying from a new fungal disease
by Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, June 17, 2017
Tens of thousands of mature street trees in Southern California are susceptible to a new, deadly fungal strain that kills at alarming speeds and threatens to destroy the urban forest in older cities known for their tree-lined streets, scientists say. Branch die back disease caused by botryosphaeria fungus has already infected more than 25 percent of the region’s ficus trees, also know as Indian laurel-leaf fig, said Donald Hodel, researcher and horticultural advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles. (FULL STORY)

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SOMA alley leather walk takes shape
by Matthew S. Bajko, Bay Area Reporter, June 15, 2017
The $2 million alleyway project, officially known as the San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley, has been nearly a decade in the making. Developer 4Terra Investments, which built the LSeven mixed-use housing project that fronts Ringold Alley, paid for the leather historical elements as part of the capital improvements it was required to fund. Thursday the Friends of the Urban Forest will be planting 19 street trees along the block: 11 Acer rubrum Armstrong, a Columnar Red Maple, three Arbutus Marina, a strawberry tree, and five Tristania laurina, a water gum native to Australia. (FULL STORY)

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Trees of Life
by Tom Molanphy, SF Weekly, June 14, 2017
On a fog-filled, June-gloom day, 20 or so people mill around on a Cole Valley sidewalk. These are volunteers for Friends of the Urban Forest, and they’re about to attempt what Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York’s Central Park, famously said would “not be wise nor safe to undertake” in San Francisco. They are about to plant trees. Prop. E covers the maintenance of the current forest but not the planting of new trees, so fundraisers by organizations like FUF, a nonprofit started in 1981 by concerned citizens in Noe Valley who thought San Francisco was not planting enough trees, are necessary to sustain the urban forest. (FULL STORY)

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Unpermitted removal of tree owned by city angers Noe Valley residents
by Bill Disbrow, SF Gate, June 12, 2017
Operators of a Noe Valley apartment complex could be on the hook for thousands after a cypress owned by the city was removed without a permit last week. The tree once towered over an apartment complex across the street from Douglass Playground. “The fine would be based on the assessed value of the tree. The fine could be $10,000 or more; our arborists are reviewing,” said Rachel Gordon of the San Francisco Department of Public Works. “The loss of this majestic tree is a black mark on our urban forestry.” (FULL STORY)

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City-owned Noe Valley tree chopped illegally, neighbors furious
by Adam Brinklow, Curbed SF, June 9, 2017
Residents and neighbors of the apartment building at 610-660 Clipper Street woke up to a nasty shock Thursday, as the towering Juniper tree on the corner of Clipper and Douglass (right across the street from the Douglass Playground) was gone, leaving nothing but the melancholic smell of fresh sawdust. This unfortunate felling could turn into a big problem. The chopped tree was owned by the city. It was also allegedly one of the oldest and tallest public trees in Noe Valley. (FULL STORY)

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Researchers answer ‘how green are urban trees?’ question
AmericanHort Press Release, June 8, 2017
Trees are natural contenders to sequester carbon in efforts to mitigate climate change. However, carbon is released into the atmosphere during production and maintenance practices, such as planting, pruning, irrigation and even removal upon tree death. Pruning styles and frequency, for example, have a great impact on carbon emissions. Researchers led by Dr. Dewayne Ingram, University of Kentucky, set out to determine at what point urban trees sequester as much carbon as is emitted during maintenance practices over their lifespan. Another way to phrase this is: at what point do urban trees become carbon neutral? (FULL STORY)

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Restore our connection to nature in The City
by Debbie Raphael, San Francisco Examiner, June 5, 2017
Today is World Environment Day. Some may think San Francisco doesn’t have much nature to celebrate, but in fact, we are recognized as an urban biodiversity hotspot. In April of this year, a group of scientists proposed a new Global Deal for Nature, similar in scope to the Paris Climate Agreement, in which 50 percent of land would be conserved for nature through habitat protection and restoration. This bold vision is inspired by “Nature Needs Half,” a campaign promoted by the Wild Cities network, of which San Francisco is a founding member. (FULL STORY)

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Apple Park’s Tree Whisperer
by Steven Levy, Backchannel, June 1, 2017
At first glance, it might have seemed an unusual meeting between Steve Jobs and David Muffly. Jobs was a world-renowned technologist billionaire, and Muffly an itinerant arborist whose passion was the soil. But at this first meeting in 2010, Muffly learned that he and Steve Jobs shared a love of trees, and in particular a passion for the foliage native to the pre-Silicon Valley landscape, before big tech companies showed up and changed it. The encounter would lead to Muffly becoming the senior arborist at Apple, Inc., in charge of choosing, locating and planting the 9,000 trees that justify Apple’s choice to call its 175-acre campus a park – and in making Apple Park a leaf-and-blossom tribute to the CEO who designed it but would not live to see it built. Or planted. (FULL STORY)

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